Interview with director Ruth Pickett (LE BELLE FOLIE)

LE BELLE FOLIE was awarded BEST MUSIC at the April 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was an honor to interview the director of the unique and imaginative comedy.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ruth Pickett: I’ve been writing for a long time, working on various different projects, almost all comedic – but I’d reached the point where I just wanted to get something made. My partner encouraged me to make the step from being just a writer to a writer/director; so in 2016 I ran a crowdfunding campaign to make four low-budget short films, of which this was one – and was very fortunate in hitting the target. I shot all four in 2016 and am now taking them around film festivals.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Probably about a year. I was working on various other things at the same time though.

How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Funny, hopefully

What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

There were massive storms the day before the shoot, so travelling to the location in Wiltshire was a bit crazy due to massive train disruptions, motorway queues and flooding – and our DoP got stuck in Amsterdam when his flight back from another shoot got cancelled. Luckily our brilliant 1st AC Pascale stepped up and shot some footage whilst we were waiting for him to arrive, so we managed to make up the time we would have lost.

What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was such a joy to see an audience engage with the film, talking about specific lines they enjoyed. It made me wish I could have been there!

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO:

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I watched Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version of ‘La Belle et la Bete’ a while ago, purely by chance, I think. It’s beautiful, but at times I must admit I found the heightened acting and some of the costume design quite funny. That gave me the idea to write a parody, then once I’d written a draft I showed it to Sophie Pelham, who plays ‘La Bete’ in the film. I wrote it with her in mind as she’s a brilliant comic actress who trained in clowning, then from her initial questions about the script, we came up with the film-within-a-film idea.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’. I pretty much watched it on repeat as a child, I knew the entire thing off by heart and forced my family to watch reenactments, including the songs, that I staged with home-made paper puppets.

What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

That’s a tricky one. There are so many. It might have been something by Blur. Or Belle & Sebastian.

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m working on the script for a feature that’s in development with Dresden Pictures; plus some new feature ideas that are in the early stages.

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